Tom Brady had a frustrating start to the first match of his 23rd NFL season but a familiar finish as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers downed the Dallas Cowboys 19-3 in Texas.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady was sacked twice and threw one interception in a game where defenses dominated.
But a disappointing night for the Cowboys was made even worse when quarterback Dak Prescott departed late in the fourth quarter with an injury to his throwing hand.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that Prescott would require surgery and miss several weeks.
"We have a lot to clean up," said Brady after the Buccaneers struggled to get the ball into the end zone.
"But it's great to get a win on opening night and we have a lot of football ahead."
Brady, back in action after his decision to retire lasted just 40 days, said Tampa Bay's defense "deserves this" after the Cowboys were held to one field goal -- on the opening drive of the game.
Tampa Bay's offense, relying on a ground game that saw Leonard Fournette run for 127 yards, piled up four field goals in the first two quarters to take a 12-3 lead before Brady threw the only touchdown pass in the third quarter.
Receiver Mike Evans made a spectacular one-handed grab while falling backwards in the end zone to make it 19-3.
Aged 45, Brady became the oldest quarterback to start an NFL game, but said he wasn't interested in dwelling on that kind of milestone nor was he in a mood to reminisce about past achievements.
"I'm out here to do a job," said Brady, who has never lost a game against the Cowboys. "And I can do a better job than I did tonight."
Prescott connected on just 14 of 29 passes for 134 yards and one interception before departing as the Bucs defense impressed to give new coach Todd Bowles an opening win.
Elsewhere, the Minnesota Vikings gave new coach Kevin O'Connell a 23-7 victory over reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers with Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson finishing with a whopping 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Rodgers struggled in the absence of wide receiver Davante Adams, now with the Raiders.
And Rodgers saw his NFL record streak against NFC North division opponents of 38 touchdown passes without an interception ended when he was picked off by Harrison Smith.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes adjusted seamlessly to the absence of receiver Tyreek Hill, now with Miami, throwing for 360 yards and five touchdowns in an emphatic 44-21 victory over the Cardinals in Arizona.
- Close finishes -
The first Sunday of the season saw a string of nail-biting finishes.
Chris Boswell kicked a 53-yard field goal as time expired in overtime to lift the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Boswell's winning kick saw the Steelers' dominant defensive performance pay off, despite a late injury to T.J. Watt -- who had one of Pittsburgh's four interceptions of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
Burrow hit Ja'Marr Chase with a six-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left in regulation to knot the score at 20-20 and the game went to overtime when Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked the extra-point attempt by Evan McPherson.
Fitzpatrick also returned an interception for a touchdown early in the first quarter.
In Houston, Matt Ryan -- playing his first game for Indianapolis after 14 seasons in Atlanta -- directed three fourth-quarter scoring drives as the Colts rallied to force overtime against the Texans.
Neither team could score on two overtime possessions and the game ended in a 20-20 tie.
The New Orleans Saints erased a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun the Atlanta Falcons 27-26 and Cleveland rookie Cade York nailed a game-winning 58-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining to give the Browns a 26-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers and former Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
In Nashville, the New York Giants edged the Tennessee Titans 21-20. The Giants had trailed 20-19 after quarterback Daniel Jones hit Chris Myarick with a touchdown pass with 1:06 to play.
Brian Daboll, making his NFL head coaching debut, opted to go for the two-point conversion and Saquon Barkley powered into the end zone to give the Giants the lead, which held up when Randy Bullock missed a 47-yard field goal attempt as time expired.